There are some meals that you eat in life that you remember years later. When I traveled to Barcelona several years ago, I ate at one such restaurant that I will never be able to forget.
Now, I am a lover of all things Catalan (including the especially fun experience of drinking wine from a porrón), so when I was in Barcelona I knew that I could not leave the city without eating some of the best food that it had to offer.
My research led me to an intimate tapas restaurant called Cal Pep, which serves authentic Mediterranean cuisine with various seasonal ingredients.
Cal Pep is a very popular restaurant, and has a very short window of when it is actually open. I read that I must arrive early because there would be a long line waiting to be seated, and the information was absolutely correct. I arrived at the restaurant about an hour prior to the scheduled opening time and took my spot amongst the other people on line who were eagerly awaiting to dine at this famed establishment.
When the doors finally opened, I was one of the first people to grab a seat at the counter and when all of the seats were full, those who had been waiting on line had to stand behind us and wait for us to finish our meals before they were seated.
Unlike typical restaurants, Cal Pep is unique in that they do not have a menu. Instead, you tell the server behind the counter what kind of food you can eat, and then a meal is prepared especially for you based on your dietary requirements.
First, all patrons were served a delicious plate of Pan con Tomate (bread with tomato) and afterwards I was presented with a beautiful plate of clams. The beauty of the food did not stop at the presentation but it traveled into my mouth as I experienced a mix of ecstasy and joy as the wine-steamed clams tantalized my taste buds.
Soon after I finished devouring my clams, Cal Pep made an appearance. He came out and spoke to every guest while asking us if we were enjoying our meals, to which we enthusiastically stated that we were. After he checked on all of us, he scurried away back into the kitchen to prepare the rest of our meals.
Next up was the Calamar Fregi (fried calamari), which had the perfect amount of crispiness and seasoning. I had not had calamari more delicious prior to or after eating it at Cal Pep, and that is saying quite a lot since I have eaten some pretty delicious calamari around the world.
The main course, Rap a l’espatlla (monkfish) was served next. It was served with tomato and potatoes and for my first time trying monkfish, I would have to say that I was extremely satisfied. The meat of the fish was tender and juicy, the potatoes were lightly seasoned, and I thought that I just might cry tears of joy.
After washing down my meal with a nice cold beer, I was served the final dish of the night: Crema Catalana, which is a Spanish-style burnt custard dish that is very similar to the French crème brulée. I have never been much of a crème brulée fan, but the Crema Catalana was good for what it was.
Overall, I would give this dining experience a 5 out of 5. The food was great, the staff was wonderful, and the experience was one for the record books!
Address | Plaça de les Olles, 8, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Hours| Monday 19:30 – 23:30 | Tuesday – Friday 13:00 – 15:45 & 19:30 – 23:30 | Saturday 13:15 – 15:45 & 19:30 – 23:30 | Closed Sundays
Cost | ~ €60